I was having a conversation with a colleague the other day and a question of local lakes came up. In my 10 years in NC, I have talked to a large number of people about their favorite summer waterholes to visit and hang out at.

Most people in Greensboro love Belews Lake, in WS you hear all about High Rock lake and Lake Norman for those closer to Statesville.  What came up in this conversation was not your favorite lake to visit, but the ones to steer clear from due to high levels of industrial pollution.

Rain and green business

What’s in it for me?

Consider your social studies classes from 7/8th grade when they talked about early civilization. If I recall correctly all of the earliest settlements were centered around water supplies sources, right?

And guess what? With all the technology we have in this world today, the simple truth is that people and animals do no survive without water, so the need for fresh safe water has not changed. Preserving our fresh water for our generation and future generations to come is highly important to sustainability. Wouldn’t you agree?

So clean water means sustainable life, means the need for products and services, means profitable businesses.

Who’s responsible for keeping the water supply clean?

One of the things I learned in a business ethics class is to consider every problem from a personal angle. How can I (a business owner) personally prevent the situation from getting worse? How can I (business owner) reverse the results of the situation we are currently experiencing in a way that is fair and just to the majority of people?

When we take the time to study global problems on a personal level we make them valuable to ourselves, which then provides the fuel we need to find the solutions.

I would say keeping the fresh waters clean in our country is the responsibility of the people/myself individually. This is our water supply. We drink this, we cook with this, we feed our pets and our kids this water, we bathe in it, we play in it. Would it be a fair thing to say we, the people, use the fresh water of our country as much as the freshwater animals do?

Why are we poisoning our water supply?

If we look at this from a business ethics standpoint, and we see based on the articles shared here that the toxicity in our water supply is coming from companies (business owners like ourselves) who are still using coal technology to provide power to the state, then we have to say that corporations who are making this choice are partly to blame for the outcome. So we are the problem we are facing.

Why are these companies choosing such an antiquated solution for power sources?  Why do companies choose to make any decision? It’s more financially beneficial on some level for them to do business in that fashion as opposed to changing course. Perhaps it is a lack of knowledge on other ways to do the same thing, perhaps it is short-sightedness that this course of action is known to produce x result but changing course may lead to a greater result, and perhaps it is not enough resources to make the changes necessary.

Considering all the other green technologies on the planet today from wind power to water power and even solar power that are all abundant and renewable resources, why are we still using coal? Did you know that coal was used to generate power back in the 15th century? It is that old!

I believe another reason we, as a people, do not demand a change from corporations is because we get tied up in our day to day lives we don’t think about the larger impact those companies are having on our lives/environments/future. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day to day, but not take a breath and look at the bigger picture of the firms we are supporting through our personal resources.

These giant companies like Monsanto and others like them, dilute our air and water quality through the products they create, that our local farmers buy, so we the people can eat – are contributing to the health problems we are seeing in America today. Take a moment and look at your company. What are you doing to improve the quality of life for the environment around your office? What are you doing to contribute the quality of life for your employees? These are factors that contribute to the overall health of the nation and the environment.

Last reason that I believe that America is seeing such a problem with fresh water pollution is that we are lazy. We believe because there is government regulation on the water supply that it is solely the responsibility of the government to keep the watersheds clear of harmful elements. The trouble is, the government is slow. They are like the titanic and the nation’s problems are like the iceberg. Because the government is so large it takes so long to get a decision and enforce a change that the problems just get closer and closer and they impact our local communities long before the government can do anything about it.

It’s up to us!

We the local business owners need to make sensible decisions to help protect our water supply in our systems and processes. We the local business owners need to make the decision to help protect the quality of life we all love to have and live. It is up to us to make the changes on a local level for real change to happen.

What can we really do individually?

We can spread the word of the ongoing contamination issues. We can work to grow our own crops and not use pesticides to at least help eliminate that one nasty chemical from entering the water supply. We can use environmentally friendly tools like going paperless making for less paper waste in the water supply. We have talked before about how going paperless can improve your bottom line in your business by eliminating paper waste, the cost of ink, and the need for an office space. Remote work is the new wave for a reason more than the flexibility of schedule (we will talk more on this later).

We can choose a gravel driveway over a paved driveway. We can clean up after our pets so their waste doesn’t enter the water supply. We can opt to incorporate alternative energy sources into our homes. We can spend our money with companies who are working to make a difference in our local communities through their mission, vision and practice of environmentally sound policies. This takes some effort and research, but we as a people, and we as business owners should realize who we are endorsing with our hard earned cash each week. Are this firms who are making money off us using the money to improve our environment? What about the quality of life? These are questions we have to start asking in order to guarantee we the people will be here for centuries to come (god willing).

How much of an impact can I really make?

Sure these are little things, but consider if even 1% of the population on Yadkin Pee-Dee river alone took these steps to water conservation what a difference that would make over the course of one year! There are over 1.67 million people on this river alone between NC and SC based on the Yadkin River study in the Winston-Salem Journal from 2013. 1% of that population is 16,700 people, each making an individual effort to preserve and conserve the waterways… will you join me and be part of that 1%?

Thanks for reading! Please Join the conversation!